Use of Certification Credentials

NSPE Position Statement No. 10-177
May 2016
Latest Revision: 
March 2019
Sunset Date: 
March 2022
NSPE Contact: 
Committee on Policy and Advocacy
Professional Policy Supported: 
10-Professional Practice

Position Statement: It is the position of the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) that the importance of engineering licensure should not be minimized or diluted by the use of certification titles issued by private certification programs (e.g., certification programs offered by non-governmental groups or organizations).

Private certification programs are not a substitute for engineering licensure. In fact, private certification may have the effect of confusing the public’s understanding of the role of licensed professional engineers and blur the distinction between the practice of engineering by licensed professionals and other services, particularly when such private certification programs employ engineering titles in their certifications. In addition, these programs lack the level of personal and professional accountability provided by the professional engineering licensure process as required and administered under state or territorial law.

  1. To better separate private certifications from the licensure process, NSPE advocates that all jurisdictions should restrict the use of the title “engineer” to licensed professional engineers in their engineering licensure laws and regulations.
  2. NSPE advocates that jurisdictions recognize that licensure is the first requirement to the practice of engineering.
  3. To avoid confusing the public’s understanding of certifications with licensure and the role of licensed professional engineers, licensed professional engineers are encouraged to employ the PE designation as their primary credential designation, before the use of other professional, academic or certification designations.